Snow in the Sahara


On rare occasions, snow can fall on the high places of the Sahara Desert.


A satellite view of snowfall in the Sahara Desert.
A satellite view of snowfall in the Sahara Desert.
NASA Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens

For the second time in three years, snow accumulated in the desert near the northern Algerian town of Aïn Séfra. Sometimes called the “gateway to the desert,” the town of 35,000 people sits between the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains.

According to news and social media accounts, anywhere from 10 to 30 centimetres of snow accumulated on January 8, 2018, on some higher desert elevations (1000 meters or more above sea level). Social media photos showed citizens sliding down snow-covered sand dunes.

Warming temperatures melted much of it within a day.

On January 8, the Landsat 8 satellite captured the data for this natural-color image of the snow in the Sahara Desert. The Landsat 8 image was then draped over a global digital elevation model by a scientist from NASA Earth Observatory.


Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
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